Sunday, January 30, 2005

Dungeon crawl Saturday night

Saturday Night was the first session of my new Greyhawk campaign. Our group has 3 players and myself. Fred is playing a Desert Ranger named Katar, his daughter Is running a Human Fighter named Amrius, and my oldest son Anthony is running a half-Elven Mage from Ekbir named Akira. For added punch I am running an NPC Priest of St. Cuthbert named Stern.
As I stated in an earlier post the campaign is beginning in the Barony of Ratik. Amrius is left with an inheritance from his father. The inheritance is a horse ranch. Horses are very rare in Ratik, so the inheritance is a valuable one. Recently Amrius's horses have begun disappearing, he and his ranch hands headed out in search of the culprits. They were soon caught in an ambush near the foot of the Rakers by a band of Goblins. Amrius and his ranch hands managed to escape and return to the ranch. Knowing that however well intentioned his men were they were no match for goblins, Amrius decides to head to town to get some "professional" help. In town Amrius meets a Ranger from the deserts of the great Rift, named Katar. A Mage from the land of Ekbir, known as Akira, and a Priest of St. Cuthbert, named Stern who hails from the Southern land of Idee.
The quartet heads towards the Rakers and soon makes contact with the Goblin lair, and some good old fashioned Dungeon crawling ensues.

Friday, January 28, 2005


Tomorrow night we are playing AD&D. Good ol' fashioned Greyhawk campaign! a few years ago I ran across an article in praise of Greyhawk as a campaign world. I thought I would post it here since all references to it in a recent 'Google" search came up with dead links. so here it is.

What Makes Greyhawk Greyt?

By Randy Richards

1) Nostalgia
The World of Greyhawk is the first published role-playing world. Many AD&D fans have been playing in Greyhawk since its inception in 1975, as "Supplement I: Greyhawk". When you get used to something, you begin to desire it more. Original Greyhawk patrons are now in their 30's and 40's.

2) PCs As Heroes
The PC's are the heroes of the adventures and campaigns, not ultra-godlike NPCs who have powers the PCs can't even possess. Greyhawk is the ultimate role-playing world. Greyhawk's heroes seldom kill the bad guys, only temporarily put a crimp in his or her plans. Success brings the PCs notoriety, and NPC heroes exist to recognize these accomplishments, but they will have likely played little role in the victory itself. The major events in recent Flanaess history are all presented in such a way that the PCs may play a role, perhaps even a leading one. PCs fought the Greyhawk Wars, defeated Zuggtmoy and the her Temple of Elemental Evil, Iggwilv's daughter Drelnza, the Giants and Drow in league with Lolth, and could have helped Iuz defeat Vecna.

3) Medium Fantasy
The World of Greyhawk is what might be called a "medium" fantasy setting. Masque of the Red Death is a low fantasy setting; the Forgotten Realms is a high fantasy setting, and the World of Greyhawk falls in the middle. The structure of the world is grounded more in reality than a heavy reliance upon powerful magic and encumbering PCs with magical items. This emphasizes role-playing over roll-playing, and helps prevent the "Monty Haul" campaign blight without denigrating magic overall.

4) Neutrality
While there are good vs. evil conflicts, Greyhawk has historically been anchored deep in active, almost militant, neutrality. A prime example of this is the Circle of Eight, but the Flanaess druids certainly deserve some credit. Conflicts may also include good vs. good, good vs. neutral, evil vs. neutral, or evil vs. evil. The world is not black and white, but a firm shade of grey.

5) Personified Adversaries
The complexity of a sentient mind are too often diluted by the simplistic nine alignments. Adversaries in Greyhawk have both desirable and undesirable traits at the same time making the line between god and evil seem a bit blurred.

IUZ is a diabolical overlord who controls a vast realm, and who has caused many problems over decades and decades. A fiendish cambion born of Iggwilv and Graz'zt, he was imprisoned by Zagyg for years, then set free to wreak havoc upon the Flanaess for even more years to come. He became a demi-god, and a force to terrorize and threaten even the mightiest of parties for many a campaign.

THE SCARLET BROTHERHOOD was founded in 5091 SD to prevent the "dilution of Suel virtues". As a result, the most determined Suel nobility who escaped the Rain of Colorless Fire gravitated toward the Tilvanot Peninsula. The Brotherhood seeks to re-establish the glories of the ancient Suloise society: slaveholding, assassination, ritual torture, and employment of goblinoid mercenaries. Their methods of conquest usually involve assassination, duplicity, and mutants. In contrast, they also revere the highest magical and materials arts.
In the "Fate of Istus" module, we discover the Scarlet Brotherhood learned its monk-style fighting abilities from Oriental Kara-Tur natives (they came through a portal). They are responsible for giving the Scarlet Brotherhood one of its unique traits. Sadly, monks were eliminated in this adventure, blanding the Brotherhood mystique a bit.

RARY seeks order on his own terms. Rary was a member of the Circle of Eight who killed several of his colleagues, namely Tenser and Otiluke. He is now living in exile with Lord Robilar, his military advisor, in the Bright Desert. Rary is currently examing the remnants of the Flan Empire of Sulm, and attempting to obtain a cursed artifact the "Scorpion Crown" from Shattados. His future plans are presently unclear.

6) Celebrity Magic
Magic of the Flanaess is personalized. Take a gander at the magic items, spells, and artifacts even in the "Core Rules" Dungeon Masters Guide. AD&D players are familiar with the Quiver of Ehlonna, Boccob's Blessed Book,
Murlynd's Spoon, Heward's Handy Haversack, Bigby's Crushing Hand, or Tenser's Floating Disc? The World of Greyhawk has its share of famous artifacts too. The Hand and Eye of Vecna, the once lich, now demi-god, are first to come to mind, as is the Sword of Kas (Kas being Vecna's treacherous friend turned nemesis). The Rod of Many Parts first appeared as part of that setting, as well as Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut, both of which are now generic AD&D modules. Let us also not forget Heward's Mystical Organ, the Mace of Cuthbert, Wand of Orcus (recently appearing in the Dead Gods product), glowing ruby Rod of Asmodeus, and the acid secreting wavy-bladed Sword of Graz'zt. All of these personages originate from the World of Greyhawk. Magic in Greyhawk has a documented history.

7) Unexplored Territory
The Flanaess, and in Oerth as a whole, unlike so many other worlds is still relatively unexplored. The Flanaess residents are only just now uncovering the remnants of the old empires. Like the Aztec-styled Olman Empire, remnants of the Aerdi Empire, and the Flan. The Flan Empire of Sulm produced the Bright Desert, and is currently being explored by Rary. The Suel Empire became the Sea of Dust after the Rain of Colorless Fire.... difficult to reach ruins are now being explored there, as well as easier to reach ones in the migrated eastern lands. The Baklunish Empire has few ruins since most buildings were destroyed by the Invoked Devastation, however, some Bakluni relics like Tovag Baragu still remain, as do the buildings of the Baklarran dwarves.
On the fold-out Darlene map we notice Hepmonaland, Land of Black Ice, Amedio Jungle, and the Sea of Dust as unknown quantities. Oerth has other areas besides the Flanaess, as sketched by quasi-deity Heward in Dragon Annual #1. The map contains labels such as the Celestial Imperium, Empire of Lynn, Hyperboria, Erypt, Polaria, Fireland, Tharquish Empire, Nippon Dominion, Orcreich, Dragons Island, Kingdoms of the Marches, and Elven Lands among others. And don't forget Greyspace with Luna, Celene, the Grinder and more. We've only touched the surface of Greyhawk!

8) Plots Within Plots
Wheels within wheels. Subplots with even more acute subplots. As demonstrated by early modules, and the later Falcon trilogy, we see a plot avocado peeled away to reveal even deeper layers of plots. In the center we find an unexpected enemy who can be thwarted by the PCs.

9) Linked History
Greyhawk's history is a delicately part of the setting that links the races, monsters, countries, and gods into a complex whole. Greyhawk products build on this history and incorporate it, but leave enough loose threads to allow for further development by the DM. This is a special Greyhawk quality.

10) No Gunpowder
Gunpowder does not work on the planet Oerth, although it does work in other areas of Greyspace. The only published exception to this rule is the quasi-deity Murlynd (played originally by Don Kay). There has been talk of allowing priests of this demi-deity to be allowed to use them.

11) Fan Support
The World of Greyhawk was discontinued and then brought back into the mainstream by fan support. This fact alone speaks volumes on its popularity and appeal to the average gamer.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Heroic Adventure

I just started up another Yahoogroup. I love Adventure fiction. Whether it's "Sword and Sorcery", "Sword and Planet" or historical fiction in an exotic setting. There are lots of different groups out there that cater to specific writers such as Robert E Howard (Conan, Kull) and Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan, John Carter). There are also groups that deal with a specific aspect of the genre: Comics, B-Movies, Role-playing games Etc. What I have found though, is that one can only stray so far before someone yells "off-topic".
What I hope to create with this group is a place where any of these aspects can be discussed without fear of being "off-topic". Where the merits of REH's tales of the Crusades can share the spotlight with the infamous "Deathstalker" movies. Where a person can post questions regarding a Runequest game, or trade episodes of the Beastmaster TV series.
So if this type of community appeals to you then have a seat, pull up the keyboard,tune out the wife, and join me at: Heroic Adventures. The setting for the group states that membership requires approval- thats mostly to keep the spammers and a couple of nutcases that haunt the gaming and action figure lists from joining to troll.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Old school gaming

The group I'm playing with on Saturdays is my LoS playtest gang, but we are taking a break from the playtesting while I right more stuff for LoS. and since Erisa is already being done on the net I wanted
something easy, Greyhawk is like a pair of nicely broken in slippers. I even allow elves!

So here is an outline of my Greyhawk campaign that starts this saturday:

The Campaign will be set in the world of Greyhawk (otherwise known as
Oerth). It will be centered in the northeastern corner of the
continent, in a land known as The Arch Barony of Ratik.
Ratik was once the northernmost Barony of what was once the Great
Kingdom of Aerdy (which was simply known as "The Great Kingdom").
After the collapse of the Great Kingdom, Ratik declared its
independence. The Great Kingdom was too weak at the time to do
anything about it.

The land
Ratik's climate is very similar to that of the northeastern U.S. and
Lower Canada. Ratik is bordered to the south and west by mountains,
to the north by a great forest known as the Timberway and to the east
by the Solnor Sea. It's a frontier country whose population consists
primarily of humans, dwarves, gnomes, and the usual smattering of
Halflings, there is also a small community of wild-Elves in the
Timberway forest.

The humans dwell along the coast, central valley, and guard the
southern pass from incursions from the Humanoids in the neighboring
Bone march. the Dwarves are mostly in the western mountains, Gnomes
and hobbits are in the hill regions.

Ratik is rich in natural resources: timber, furs, minerals and fish.


Warriors- if you're a local you could be part of the Army, Navy or
the local constabulary.
Ratik maintains a very large, well trained garrison at both ends of
the realm. To the south is the pass that must be guarded against
incursion by Humanoid raiders from the Bone March. And to the north
there are a series of posts standing watch against an overland
invasion from barbarian raiders from the north.
Navy and marine characters could find lots of action protecting
Ratik's burgeoning shipping trade from privateers and other raiders.
The constabulary in Ratik is very similar that of a "highway patrol",
where groups of constables travel a circuit of villages and Steadings
suppressing banditry and keeping the peace.

Rangers- as a frontier nation Ratik is well served by Rangers in the
borderlands. Rangers patrol the high mountains and deep into the
northern forests. The Rangers of Ratik usually work hand in hand with
the Druids to combat any evils that would threaten the lands or the

Paladins- the presence of Humanoid and barbarian hordes on the
borderlands gives several of the more martial deities reason to
maintain a show of force in the region and in some cases young
Paladins from the southern kingdoms are sent to these "far off
regions" to hone their skills and learn the lessons of service and
humility. Several sects of worshippers serving lawful Good deities
such as Heironeous, Mayaheine, Pholtus, and St. Cuthbert operate
Keeps and Abbeys in Ratik.

Priests- priests of deities whose area of concern is the wilderness,
agriculture, freedom, and trade can be found in Ratik preaching to
the folk and promoting the doctrines of their deity.
While adventuring priests serving a myriad deities can be found in
Ratik, the following are a listing of the gods most worshipped by the
local population-
Beory (Nature), Bleredd (Smiths), Ehlonna (Forests), Fharlanghn
(Travelers), Kord (Strength), Merikka (Agriculture), Norebo (Luck),
Procan (Sea), Trithereon (Liberty), Xerbo (Merchants), and Ulaa

Rogues- the city bred thief will find slim pickings in the streets of
Marner (Ratik's Capital) in fact the capital of Ratik will be of
scant interest to those who have seen the great cities of the south.
To such a rogue, Ratik's urban areas will be a miserable
disappointment. Most of the roguish activity takes place on the roads
in the form of banditry. Adventuring rogues however do find a
challenge in exploring to many ruins located near the wilder areas of
the barony.

Druids-Druids hold a great deal of influence in Ratik. Though they
are small in number, they are guardians of the land and insure that
the miners, hunters, foresters and farmers treat the land with
respect. The Druids get on well with the Dwarven, Gnomish and
Halfling communities, and are the only humans that usually treat with
the Elves. But they often meet resistance from the growing Merchant
class in Marner, who feel adherence to the "old ways" is stifling
Ratik's progress as a developing nation.

Bards- Bards have no trouble at all fitting into Ratikkan society.
The thirst for news and tales of adventure are even more pronounced
in a land so far from the fabled cities of the shining south where
golden palaces dot the hills and silver dragons carry knights upon
their broad backs. - You get the idea.

Mages-Mages are the rarest of the rare in Ratik. There are several
expatriate Mages of small ability in the employ of the Baroness in
the capital. The military also employs several mercenary "War
But apart from a few witches in the hinterlands, and a trio of
retired Adventurer Mages living in seclusion, that's about it.

Psionicists- Surprisingly enough there is a larger than normal
concentration of people with Psionic ability living in Ratik. It is
thought that since the general populace of Oerth mistrusts
Psionicists because of their talents and potential power, many
Psionicists become fugitives, hiding their powers and trying to fit
in as best they can. What is not known to the general populace of
Oerth is that the Baroness of Ratik is herself a Psionicist. And
through an underground network has aided many Psionicists of varying
powers and abilities to escape to a better life free from the abuse
and control that many governments and other organizations impose upon

Friday, January 21, 2005


As some of you know I'm working on my own RPG that uses the genre of the Sword and Sorcery movies and comics of the 70's and 80's as its backdrop. As such I have been doing a awful (and in some cases it truly is Awful) amount of research reading every S&S novel and comic book from the 70's I can get my hands on. And watching every S&S movie ever made in the Reagan era.
well last night I finally had time to sit down and watch the beastmaster DVD uncut and in its entirety. I had seen tiny bits through the years on USA network and Galavision, but I never saw the whole thing at one time. And I missed something that would have probably made my heart stop twenty years ago...Tanya Roberts.


Tanya Roberts in 1982 with no top on. Wow.

I cant believe I've been around all this time and never saw her before...Wow.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

My Aptiva

After seven years of faithful service our IBM Aptiva computer finally died. it had received a couple of upgrades , but it looks like the old horse just had to call it a day. All in all I'm pretty pleased with the length of time it served. It was windows all the way with no apologies. it went from 97 and 98 to the horrors of ME and finally to 2000. It was a present from my in-laws when Scarlette and I returned to college. My Aptiva and MS Office took us through dozens of papers, class projects, PowerPoint presentations, and many, many late nights.

I rediscovered GI Joe when I found the action heroes group and I found a new way to game with the original Erisa PBEM game. We downloaded a lot of pirated stuff on Napster and Kazaa (ARRGH matey!), kicked the shit outta the Nazis in "Close Combat" and got the shit kicked out of us in "Age of Empire". We started a web site and then a blog. We paid our bills and did our taxes online and in between watched many a porn AVI.

I learned about the 9/11 tragedy while perusing my morning emails. That was a day I'll never forget.

My Aptiva has been a blessing and a bit of a curse. I made friends all over the world but I've had to deal with some real whiney nut jobs as well. I got published for the first time thanks to my Aptiva, but I also discovered a site called EBay (so much for the college fund for the kids).

My Aptiva was my Yin and Yang.

Adios Amigo